Books on the Kokoda Campaign in 1942: A Paperback Guide for Trekkers on the Kokoda Track
Introduction – Books for Kokoda & the Second World War
Embarking on the historic Kokoda Trail trek is a journey that immerses you in the footsteps of Australian heroes who faced the challenges of the treacherous jungle track during the Kokoda Campaign in 1942. Kokoda was a defining battle. To enhance your understanding and appreciation, we’ve compiled a list of must-read books that cover various aspects of the Kokoda story. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a trekking aficionado, or simply curious about the Australian experience in Papua New Guinea, these books offer valuable insights.
1. “Kokoda” by Peter FitzSimons
Peter FitzSimons, a bestselling author and journalist, tells the gripping story of Kokoda, a battle that played a pivotal role in Australia’s history. FitzSimons’ narrative prowess brings the precarious jungle track to life, providing readers with a vivid account of the challenging conditions Australian soldiers faced. His book is a cornerstone for understanding the significance of Kokoda in the context of World War II. Kokoda is one great read on what Australian troops achieved.
2. “Kokoda Trail for Dummies” by Peter Williams
For those new to the Kokoda Trail experience, Peter Williams’ guide is a valuable resource. “Kokoda Trail for Dummies” offers practical insights, historical context, and essential tips for trekkers. Whether you’re walking the Kokoda Track for the first time or seeking a comprehensive overview, this book serves as a helpful companion.
3. “Kokoda: Beyond the Legend” by Karl James
Karl James delves deep into the legend of Kokoda, exploring the broader implications and historical context of the campaign. “Kokoda: Beyond the Legend” is a scholarly work that provides a nuanced understanding of the battles fought by Australians in Papua New Guinea. James’ research enriches the reader’s perspective on this critical chapter in Australian military history.
4. “The Jungle is Neutral” by F. Spencer Chapman
F. Spencer Chapman’s classic work, “The Jungle is Neutral,” provides a unique perspective on the challenges posed by the jungle environment during the Kokoda Campaign. Chapman’s exploration of the jungle track and its neutral stance in the conflict adds a fascinating layer to the narrative.
5. “Those Ragged Bloody Heroes” by Peter Brune
Another one for the book stores from Peter Brune, a dedicated historian, offers a comprehensive account of the Kokoda Campaign in “Those Ragged Bloody Heroes.” Through meticulous research, Brune brings to light the experiences of Australian soldiers who fought against overwhelming odds. This book is an essential read for those interested in the personal stories of the brave individuals who defended Australia.
6. “Hell’s Battlefield: The Australians in New Guinea in WWII” by Phillip Bradley
Phillip Bradley’s “Hell’s Battlefield” provides a broader context by examining the Australians’ experiences in New Guinea during World War II. The book sheds light on the challenges faced by Australian forces beyond the Kokoda Trail, offering a comprehensive perspective on the entire New Guinea campaign.
7. “Kokoda Spirit: The True Story of Kokoda and the Soldiers’ Heart” by Patrick Lindsay
Patrick Lindsay’s “Kokoda Spirit” delves into the emotional and psychological impact of the Kokoda Campaign on the soldiers. By exploring the soldiers’ hearts and minds, Lindsay adds a human dimension to the historical accounts, making this book a compelling and insightful read.
8. “The Battle for Australia: The Kokoda Campaign” by Roland Perry
Roland Perry’s must read “The Battle for Australia” provides a detailed examination of the Kokoda Campaign, placing it within the broader context of the defence of Australia during World War II. Perry’s work contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of the strategic importance of the Kokoda Trail.
9. “Kokoda Wallaby: Stan Bisset: The Rugby International Who Became a Kokoda Hero” by Andrew James
Andrew James’ biography of Stan Bisset, “Kokoda Wallaby,” highlights the extraordinary journey of a ex-wallaby rugby international who became a Kokoda hero. Bisset’s story exemplifies the diverse backgrounds of the individuals who played crucial roles in the Kokoda Campaign.
10. “The Kokoda Campaign 1942: Myth and Reality” by Dr. Peter Williams
Dr. Peter Williams critically examines the myths and realities surrounding the Kokoda Campaign in his eponymous book. This scholarly work challenges misconceptions, providing readers with a more nuanced understanding of the historical events.
11. “Kokoda: The Australians’ Story” by Patrick Lindsay
Patrick Lindsay revisits the Kokoda story in his book, “Kokoda: The Australians’ Story.” Offering a fresh perspective on the Aussies, Lindsay focuses on the collective experience of Australian soldiers, emphasizing the camaraderie and mateship that played a crucial role in facing the challenges along the Kokoda Trail.
12. “Kokoda” by Paul Ham
Paul Ham’s “Kokoda” is a comprehensive exploration of the campaign, providing a detailed account of the battles fought by the Australian forces. Ham’s narrative skilfully weaves together historical facts and personal stories, offering readers a comprehensive and engaging overview of the Kokoda Campaign.
13. “Kokoda Air Strikes: Allied Air Forces in New Guinea, 1942” by Anthony Cooper
Anthony Cooper’s “Kokoda Air Strikes” sheds light on the role of Allied air forces during the Kokoda Campaign. The book explores the strategic importance of air support in the challenging terrain of New Guinea and its impact on the overall outcome of the campaign.
14. “Kokoda: That Bloody Track” by David Howell and Hugh Dolan
David Howell and Hugh Dolan provide a gripping account of the Kokoda Campaign in “Kokoda: That Bloody Track.” Their collaborative effort combines historical research with vivid storytelling, offering readers a compelling narrative that captures the intensity of the battles fought along the infamous track.
15. “Mud Over Blood” by Carl Johnson
Carl Johnson’s “Mud Over Blood” is the first instalment in a trilogy that explores the conditions faced by the young Australians during the Kokoda Campaign. Focusing on the challenging terrain and harsh climate, Johnson’s work provides a detailed and visceral account of the physical hardships endured by the troops.
16. “Mud Over Blood Revisited” by Carl Johnson
In the second instalment of his trilogy, “Mud Over Blood Revisited,” Carl Johnson continues to delve into the experiences of Australian soldiers on the Kokoda Trail. This book revisits and further explores the physical and emotional toll of the campaign on the men who fought.
17. “Mud Over Blood – The Final Chapter” by Carl Johnson
Carl Johnson concludes his trilogy with “Mud Over Blood – The Final Chapter.” This instalment brings closure to the narrative, offering a comprehensive understanding of the lasting impact of the Kokoda Campaign on the soldiers involved.
18. “A Bastard of a Place” by Peter Brune
Peter Brune’s “A Bastard of a Place” provides a detailed examination of the Kokoda Campaign, focusing on the challenging terrain that earned the trail its reputation. Brune’s work emphasizes the physical and logistical challenges faced by Australian forces as they fought to defend their homeland.
19. “Ralph Honner – Kokoda Hero” by Peter Brune
In “Ralph Honner – Kokoda Hero,” Peter Brune shifts the focus to the remarkable story of Ralph Honner, a key figure in the Kokoda Campaign. This biography offers insights into Honner’s leadership and the pivotal role he played in the defence of the Kokoda Trail.
20. “Kokoda Track 101 Days” by Peter Macinnis
Peter Macinnis provides a unique perspective in “Kokoda Track 101 Days,” examining the campaign through a chronological lens. By breaking down the events into a day-by-day account, Macinnis offers readers a detailed and immersive experience of the 101 days that defined the Kokoda Campaign.
21. “200 Shots” by Peter Brune
Peter Brune’s “200 Shots” provides a detailed examination of the fierce battles fought during the Kokoda Campaign. The book takes its title from the estimate that Australian soldiers fired approximately 200 shots for every enemy soldier killed, highlighting the intensity of the conflict.
22. “Field Guide to the Kokoda Track” by Bill James
Another book recommended by us for trekkers seeking practical information, is Bill James’ “Field Guide to the Kokoda Track” is an invaluable resource. Available from specialty retailers, this well researched guide offers insights into the trail’s geography, flora, and fauna, enhancing the trekking experience with a deeper understanding of the environment.
23. “The Digger of Kokoda” by Daniel Lane
Daniel Lane explores the experiences of the common Australian soldier in “The Digger of Kokoda.” Focusing on the everyday heroes who fought and died along the trail, Lane’s work provides a grassroots perspective, giving readers a glimpse into the lives of the many Australians who faced extraordinary challenges.
24. “The Spell Broken: Exploding the Myth of Japanese Invincibility” by Peter Brune
In “The Spell Broken,” Peter Brune challenges the myth of Japanese invincibility during the Kokoda Campaign. Through meticulous research, Brune deconstructs prevailing misconceptions, offering a more nuanced understanding of the capabilities and vulnerabilities of the Imperial Japanese Army.
25. “The Battles for Kokoda Plateau” by David W. Cameron
David W. Cameron’s “The Battles for Kokoda Plateau” provides a detailed analysis of the strategic battles that took place on the Kokoda Plateau. Cameron’s work contributes to a deeper understanding of the military tactics employed by both Australian and Japanese forces.
26. “We Band of Brothers” by Ralph Honner
Ralph Honner’s “We Band of Brothers” offers a personal account of the bonds forged among Australian soldiers during the Kokoda Campaign. Honner’s narrative celebrates the spirit of mateship and camaraderie that sustained the troops through the challenging conditions.
27. “The Architect of Kokoda Robert Kienzle – the man who made the Kokoda trail” by Robyn Kienzle
Robyn Kienzle’s biography, “The Architect of Kokoda,” focuses on Robert Kienzle, the man responsible for creating the Kokoda Trail. By exploring Kienzle’s role in the trail’s construction, the book provides insights into the logistical challenges faced by Australian forces.
28. “The Kokoda Trail: A History” by Stuart Hawthorne
Stuart Hawthorne’s “The Kokoda Trail: A History” offers a comprehensive historical overview of the Kokoda Trail. From its origins to its significance in Australian military history, Hawthorne’s work provides readers with a thorough understanding of the trail’s evolution.
29. “The Battle for Isurava” by David W. Cameron
David W. Cameron’s “The Battle for Isurava” zooms in on one of the pivotal battles of the Kokoda Campaign. By providing a detailed account of the fighting in Isurava, Cameron’s work sheds light on the intensity and strategic importance of this particular engagement.
30. “Retaking Kokoda: The Battles for Templeton’s Crossing, Eora Creek and the Oivi-Gorari Positions” by David W. Cameron
In his book, “Retaking Kokoda,” David W. Cameron continues to explore key battles, focusing on Templeton’s Crossing, Eora Creek, and the Oivi-Gorari Positions. Cameron’s detailed analysis provides readers with a deeper understanding of the tactical manoeuvres that shaped the course of the campaign.
Conclusion – Some Great Non-Fiction Options
As you prepare for your Kokoda Trail trek, these additional books will enrich your understanding of the historical, personal, and strategic dimensions of the Kokoda Campaign. Each author brings a unique perspective, contributing to a more comprehensive and nuanced view of
this crucial chapter in Australian military history. Whether you are interested in personal narratives, strategic analyses, or the logistical challenges faced by the troops, this curated list of books covers a diverse range of aspects related to the Kokoda Campaign.
The Kokoda Trail is more than just a physical journey; it is a trek through history, offering trekkers a profound connection to the sacrifices and heroism of the Australian soldiers who traversed this challenging terrain. By delving into these books, you are not only preparing for the physical rigors of the trail but also immersing yourself in the stories that define the spirit of Kokoda.
As you embark on your trek, let the narratives within these pages guide you through the lush jungles and steep ascents, mirroring the footsteps of those who came before. May these books enhance your appreciation for the bravery, resilience, and mateship that characterized the Australian forces along the Kokoda Trail. Safe travels, and may your journey be both enlightening and transformative.
Q: What is the significance of the Kokoda Campaign?
A: The Kokoda Campaign was a defining battle in Australian history, yet few people know about it. It was a small force of young and unstoppable Australian soldiers who fought under hellish conditions along the Kokoda track.
Q: Who tells the Kokoda story in a gripping edition?
A: Bestselling author Peter Fitzsimons tells the Kokoda story in a gripping edition. He provides detailed insights into the events and experiences of the soldiers during the campaign.
Q: What can I expect to learn from the book “Navigating the Kokoda Campaign”?
A: The book provides a comprehensive guide to the events, strategies, and Australian stories from the Kokoda Campaign. It covers the tactical aspects, the challenges faced by the soldiers, and the impact of the campaign on Australian history.
Q: Are there specific details about the conditions on the track in the book?
A: Yes, the book delves into the hellish conditions on the track, including the impact of diseases like dysentery and malaria, which plagued the soldiers during the campaign.
Q: Where can I purchase the book “Navigating the Kokoda Campaign”?
A: The book is available at major bookstores and online retailers. You can also visit the Regimental Books website to purchase your copy.
Q: What makes the Kokoda Campaign books by Peter Fitzsimons unique?
A: Each edition by Peter Fitzsimons tells the Kokoda story in a compelling and engaging manner, shedding light on the untold stories of the Australian soldiers who fought in the campaign.
Q: What is “Monash’s masterpiece” mentioned in the context of the Kokoda Campaign?
A: “Monash’s masterpiece” refers to the strategic brilliance displayed by General Sir John Monash in leading the forces during the Kokoda Campaign. The book discusses this aspect in detail.
Q: How does the Kokoda Campaign relate to other significant battles in history?
A: The book explores the connections between the Kokoda Campaign and other historic battles, such as Gallipoli, providing a comparative analysis and highlighting its impact on Australian military history.
Q: What are some key themes covered in “Navigating the Kokoda Campaign”?
A: The book covers themes such as courage, resilience, sacrifice, and the enduring spirit of the Australian soldiers who faced overwhelming odds along the challenging terrain of the Kokoda track.
Q: Why is the Kokoda Campaign considered a pivotal event in Australian history?
A: The Kokoda Campaign was a pivotal event in Australian history due to the bravery and determination displayed by the Australian soldiers, as well as its lasting impact on the nation’s identity and military heritage.